A lack of affordable, high-quality early childhood care throughout San Diego County is an enormous obstacle that adversely affects children’s readiness for kindergarten and school, and creates barriers to employment and upward mobility for new parents.

“Investing in early childhood development ensures that fewer people are living in poverty and that more San Diegans can live well in the future.”

Nick Macchione

However, a new regional model could change all of that.

A 2018 study from the University of San Diego revealed that there are not enough available childcare spaces in San Diego County for the estimated need. As the study outlines, in 2017 the region had 148,439 children ages 0-5 with working parents, yet only 83,061 licensed childcare spaces available. And access to childcare is not the only barrier.

The high cost of childcare has become a significant burden for working mothers and fathers who need it to support their families.

Milestone for the Region

Thousands of parents are forced to make an impossible choice between paying more than they can afford; settling for cheaper, lower-quality care; or leaving the workforce altogether.

That’s why a childcare facility at SAY (Social Advocates for Youth) San Diego is such a significant milestone for the region. Thanks to a grant from The San Diego Foundation, SAY San Diego’s workplace-based Early Childhood Center now offers accessible, affordable and high-quality childcare to its employees and community parents.

On November 15, leaders across all sectors came together for the official ribbon cutting of the SAY San Diego Early Childhood Center. San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and City of San Diego Councilmembers Chris Cate and Chris Ward spoke about why this facility is a gamechanger for youth and families in the region. County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency Director Nick Macchione emphasized its impact on the future of San Diego County.

Man playing with preschool-age children
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher interacts with children at the SAY San Diego Early Childhood Center grand opening.

“Facilities like the SAY San Diego Early Childhood Center put our children on a path to prosperity,” shared Nick Macchione. “Investing in early childhood development ensures that fewer people are living in poverty and that more San Diegans can live well in the future.”

President and CEO of The San Diego Foundation Mark Stuart also spoke about the economic impact this facility will have.

“SAY San Diego is not only prioritizing its employees by providing safe, convenient access to quality care, but it’s paving the way for more businesses across the region to invest in similar initiatives,” he explained.

Economic Opportunity

For businesses, the lack of affordable, quality childcare for employees can affect the bottom line, leading to higher turnover and absenteeism, decreased productivity, and difficulty recruiting skilled employees.

The economic impact is significant.

According to a recent report by nonprofit organization ReadyNation, the challenges in the childcare system cost the U.S. economy $57 billion every year in lost earnings, productivity and revenue. Mounting evidence shows that in order for businesses to remain competitive, they must address the issue of childcare directly, instead of relying on government or nonprofit services to fill all the gaps.

Nancy Gannon Hornberger, President and CEO of SAY San Diego and her team are visionary leaders in this space and have created an innovative model that other business owners in the region can replicate at their own organizations with relative ease.

At a time when the economy is facing increased competition and growing labor challenges, offering on-site childcare can be one of the best ways to attract skilled talent and grow a business and a vibrant region. 

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